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Wife finds missing husband’s mummified body in their Christmas closet 8 months after his suicide

Richard Maedge appears in missing photos shared by the Troy Police Department

Richard Maedge appears in missing poster photos shared by the Troy Police Department. The deceased man died by suicide and was found several months later, by his wife, in a closet in their home in a mummified state.

An Illinois coroner recently attempted to make sense of how the body of a missing man was found several months later inside of his own home.

Richard Maedge, 53, from Troy, Illinois – part of the St. Louis metro area in neighboring Missouri – was reported missing by his wife, Jennifer Maedge, on April 27, 2022. The widow discovered his body on Dec. 11, 2022, the Troy Police Department said.

Jennifer Maedge told police that she last spoke with her husband the day before he vanished. She said he called her and told her he was leaving work early. But, it seemed, he never returned home that day. Her husband was gone – but he left his wallet, keys, and car.

“The case is still under investigation by the Troy Police Department and the Madison County Coroner’s Office,” the department said the day after the sad find in a statement reported by local Fox affiliate KTVI. “An autopsy has been scheduled for a later date and time.”

“I decided to put the Christmas tree up, and I was looking for a tote of Christmas ornaments, and that’s when I discovered him,” Jennifer Maedge told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He had committed suicide.”

Initially, police did not disclose where the man’s body was found. Troy Police Chief Brent Shownes also reportedly declined to say anything about the condition of Richard Maedge’s remains. But there was, crucially, no indication of foul play.

“He will be deeply missed,” Jennifer Maedge told KTVI at the time. “Even though we didn’t want the outcome that we had, it’s still an outcome that we can, you know, put him to rest.”

The man’s sister, however, was incensed that law enforcement failed to find her brother.

“I need answers from the police chief,” Marilyn Toliver told the Post-Dispatch. “I need answers from the mayor. How is this even possible? Mistakes were made, and I want answers. If it means filing a complaint and going all the way to the governor, I will. I’m not going away. I’m just now beginning to say stuff out loud. I should have been screaming from the beginning, but I was suckered in by the police department saying they were doing their job and looking for him.”

Now, several months later, Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn has confirmed that the long-missing man died by suicide. The lack of foul play was also confirmed and he had no other injuries, the coroner said.

Richard Maedge was found inside a concealed closet area. According to his widow, she only found him after going to retrieve Christmas decorations for the upcoming holiday. According to the coroner’s office, his body was in a mummified state, Madison County Chief Deputy Coroner Kelly Rogers told KTVI earlier this month.

That state of mummification is likely why the body lacked a strong odor and took so long to be found, Rogers reportedly said.

But there wasn’t a lack of odor at all, authorities said.

Rogers described the Maedge residence as a “hoarder home” and noted that police noticed a “sewer-like” smell inside the first time they searched the property. Jennifer Maedge even called them back a second time to report a strange smell. Police returned and left empty-handed, noting that the smell was the same, Rogers told KTVI.

A third search was even made with cadaver dogs, Troy Police Chief Brent Shownes told the Belleville News-Democrat.

Eventually, Jennifer Maedge contacted a plumber who determined the smell was caused by sewer gas, the deputy coroner said. In turn, the plumber capped a sewage pipe in the basement – which appeared to eradicate the mysterious smell, Rogers said.

The deceased was remembered fondly by his family.

“He was the ultimate ‘Mr. Fix It,’ very creative with mechanical design and repair,” Richard Maedge’s obituary reads. “He enjoyed watching the Blues Hockey, Cardinals Baseball and NASCAR. He loved his family and the times they spent together.”

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